July 3, 2007
Tifton --- A grandfather has found a key to dealing with teenagers, getting them to do what some of their parents can't get them do, and his secret involves defying conventional wisdom.
When you see Bill Foster for the first time you'll know you are dealing with a physically big man. Talk with him for a few minutes and you'll know you are dealing with a man who sees the big picture.
Not many people think like Bill Foster when it comes to stepping up and helping young people.
"Us grown people need to get out here and work with them, get out and show them, because if we don't show them, they'll never know," says Bill as he walks in his neighborhood.
At J & J Weight Room in Tifton, Bill pushes himself to leave the world a better place than how he found it. He knows no strangers, offering decades of advice to body builders often without them asking. He'll help anyone, but he particularly likes to help young people who often stand by the wall in the weight room not knowing what to do.
"Alright Marcus, let's go," says Bill to his teenaged grandson.
"I specialize in kids," says Bill who changes the world one young person at a time.
"They need a leader," says Bill.
He gives hundreds of hours of his own time to help fill the leadership vacuum in their lives.
"Most young people don't have anyone to look up to," says Bill as he encourages Marcus to pull the weight down one more time.
Bill's strategy uses body building to reach them, a proven approach he's used for the past 25 years to show young people a way out of their disappointments and temptations. "A lot of kids don't have anyone to tell them nothing," says Bill.
Much less tell them something positive, but Bill tries to make-up for hopelessness. "If you do good, good come back; if you do bad, bad will come back," says Bill. Most people would agree.
Jack Branch has been coming back most every Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons for the past three years. "I've been working out ever since I was 12," says Jack who is 15 now.
Bill wants Jack and his students to have something more than bulging muscles. "You ain't training your body to go home and jump on mama and daddy," says Bill, who says he teaches them a healthy way of life and respect for themselves and others. "Respect goes a long way with body building and everything else, you know."
He bases everything he teaches on respect for others. "If you raise a child in a respectful manner, you'll have a respectful kid," says Bill.
As a kid, Bill had a muscle-bound reputation. "I've had muscles all my life; I was full time at 11 years old," says Bill who lifted weights with his father.
He built quite a positive reputation when it comes to body building, as well as arm wrestling, and he tried his hands at boxing.
He always comes back to his first love of body building, volunteering his time to help young people, and parents notice a positive change in their children.
"The basic thing he has taught him is commitment," says Judy Branch, Jack's mother.
A commitment Bill keeps himself and to others. "You go home with a good feeling. It makes you feel good helping people, especially helping young people," says Bill.
His young people must feel the same way after an hour with such a positive person.